James Madison

James Madison

  • Ranked #11.: Madison was the author of the US Constitution. He was able to keep the young country together despite the British attacking Washington DC and nearly burning the White House to the ground. He was a very lucky president. He was always one step away from a potential catastrophe. Madison continued the successful policies of Thomas Jefferson.
  • Summary: He was shy & reserved with people he did not know too well, had a weak voice and often made a terrible first impression. This may have been a result of having been 5’ 4” and never weighing more than 100 pounds at any point in his life. However in small, intimate groups, he was a brilliant and quick thinker. He was also thought to have suffered from epilepsy. Madison came from a wealthy Virginia family and had an excellent education.
  • Bio: He was one of the Founding Fathers who is almost solely responsible for writing the US Constitution. After recognizing that the Articles of Confederation was flawed, he authored this historic document that soon got ratified and published that argued for a strong central government that featured checks and balances between the three branches.
    One of Madison’s more surprising moves was to marry Dolley Payne Todd. She was vivacious, popular, beautiful and knew how to throw a good party. Dolley Madison would go down as one of the most outstanding First Ladies. She was responsible for making him look good in most cases.
    Although his presidency was considered less that remarkable, you could consider him the most successful of the Founding Fathers if you take in account that he ended up on the winning side of every important issue facing the young nation during his lifetime. He would often deferred decisions as long as he possibly could to hear out all sides of the issue. Once his decision was made, he held firm.
    He was also considered a lucky president when you consider how in risk the United States was during the War of 1812 when the White House was actually destroyed by fire by British soldiers. Ironically it would have burned to the ground had it not been for a major storm that swept through the area that extinguished the flames. Also at the time, England was pre-occupied with Napoleon which thinned their resources in American. On top of this a major battle was won in New Orleans against all odds that dynamically altered the outcome of the war. Had none of these, (and other) events occurred, Madison would had been viewed in a much different light.
  • Pros: Wrote the US Constitution, Federlist Papers and Bill of Rights. Was a brilliant Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson.
  • Cons: Attacked Canada, essentially declaring war on Great Britain. Had it not been for some lucky events, his presidency might of been the last one for the US. Owned slaves and did not make any attempt to free them, (even after his death).
  • Born: March 16, 1751, Port Conway, Virginia
  • Died: June 28, 1836 (aged 85) Montpelier, Orange County, Virginia
  • Term: March 4, 1809 to March 3, 1817 (2 terms)
  • Political Party: Democrat-Republican
  • Religion: Episcopalian
  • Education: College of New Jersey (now Princeton University, graduated 1771)
  • Marriage: September 15, 1794, to Dolley Payne Todd (1768–1849)
  • Children: None
  • Career: Politician, Planter
  • Vice President: George Clinton | Elbridge Gerry